EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

September 27, 2012

Man in Christmas 'miracle' indicted on drunken driving charges

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Police said both vehicles received front-end damage in the crash, which was reported at 2:05 p.m., and that a state police accident reconstruction team assisted in the investigation. No charges were filed at that time, according to police.

“The only reason I think I lived was I wasn’t wearing my seat belt, as the impact threw me out of the driver’s seat, into the passenger side and partly through the windshield,” Copeland said last week. “If I’d been wearing my seat belt I probably would have been crushed.”

Copeland said that on the afternoon of Dec. 24 he’d just delivered a box of Christmas lights to a friend on North Broadway and was on his way back to his home when the crash happened. He said he was not driving drunk as police allege he was.

“It is my contention that it wasn’t even me that hit them, and that they hit me,” Copeland said about the Foleys. “Police did a blood alcohol test at the hospital without my permission. I’d lost a lot of blood and wasn’t aware of what was happening.”

Copeland said it was several months after the accident that he received citations in the mail.

“I will fight this and I fully expect to be exonerated,” Copeland said.

Judge Garry Inge allowed Copeland to remain free on personal recognizance, with conditions that include no driving, no drinking or drug use, and that he be subject to random drug and alcohol screens. His next date in court is Nov. 26.

Court officials said that if found guilty of OUI causing serious bodily injury, Copeland faces up to 10 years in state prison, with minimum mandatory House of Correction sentence of 6 months. For a charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over 60, he faces up to 10 years in state prison. For assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, he faces up to 15 years in state prison.

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